How much you get under JobSeeker change
The coronavirus supplement for Australians on welfare support has been extended for a further three months.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Tuesday the coronavirus payment for JobSeeker recipients had been extended from December 31 until the end of March.
The payment will be reduced from $250 per fortnight to $150, meaning singles without any children can receive up to $715.70 every two weeks from January 1 onwards.
Mr Morrison said the three-month extension would cost taxpayers $3.2 billion.
He said it was not a small measure but a "very important" one to ensure support remained for vulnerable Australians during the pandemic.
The Prime Minister said the changes went through the party room Tuesday morning and the legislation would be introduced into parliament later this week to ensure it was in place by the end of the year.
Extending the welfare payment until the end of March brings it into line with the JobKeeper wage subsidy program that ends on March 28.
Extending the pandemic lifeline at the reduced rate will continue to benefit more than 1.5 million unemployed Australians on JobSeeker.
Mr Morrison would not be drawn on whether the coronavirus supplement could be extended beyond March.
"Australia is safely reopening and it needs to remain safely open," he said.
"Jobs are returning, job advertisements have doubled since May, on the most recent figures in October.
"We know that employers are looking for people to come back and we need to ensure that we have the right settings in place to support that."
On lowering the supplement payment, Mr Morrison said: "We cannot allow the lifeline that has been extended to also now hold Australia back as we move into the next phases of recovery.
"Those cushioning the blow supports were not only important to those individuals, but they bought Australia time, they bought the states and territories time, as states have had to close down their economies."
The coronavirus supplement was initially a $550 fortnightly payment at the start of the pandemic before it was reduced to $250 between September 25 and December 31.
The bonus is automatically paid to people receiving eligible payments including: JobSeeker, partner allowance, widow allowance, youth allowance, Austudy, ABSTUDY living allowance, parenting payment, farm household allowance and special benefit.
From January 1 the JobSeeker and coronavirus supplement arrangements will see singles without any children receive up to $715.70 a fortnight, singles with children and singles aged 60 and older up to $762 and people with partners up to $660.80.
The three-month extension will also extend to the $300 per fortnight income free threshold that JobSeekers can earn before their payments are reduced.
Mr Morrison said the changes would be included in legislation likely to be introduced to Parliament later this week.
Social Services Minister Anne Ruston said the government would monitor economic conditions to "strike the right balance" between providing support and getting people back into work.
"As we go forward and as the jobs market starts to open up and as our economy starts to recover from this extraordinary pandemic, we want to encourage Australians to re-engage with the workforce," she said.
"Over recent months we have put in place social security measures to support all Australians through this pandemic, but now our focus has to be on supporting Australians back to work."